Former Bradford Northern prop Jon Hamer believes destiny has played its part ahead of Great Britain Police’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup second round tie against the British Army.
An annual tie between the two teams had been hosted by the home side since 2003, but it was called off this year due to the unavailability of both squads. As fate would have it, the competition has paired the rivals in a tie which will be played at Stanningley Sports and Social Club on Sunday (2.00pm).
Hamer made over 250 appearances for Bradford during a 10-year career, before joining the GB Police Rugby League team in 1998, first as head coach and now as manager. For the 47-year-old a game with the Army is the perfect draw.
“This is the beauty of the Cup”, said Hamer. “We have hosted the army every year for the past decade, but unfortunately we both had other commitments which prevented the match from going ahead.
So it is definitely a touch of destiny that we have drawn them after this year’s game had been called off.
“It is a fantastic experience for the players to represent the team in such a prestigious competition. There is an international feel to the tournament and we are expecting a great turnout on Sunday.
“The support that we receive from travelling fans and members of the force itself is very important to us. They are all extremely good natured and give the boys a massive lift, so hopefully we can put in a good performance out there.”
The British Army boast a good record against their opponents having narrowly won the previous two encounters. As an experienced member of the side, Royal Signals Captain Tom Howley is expecting the type of close game that has become tradition in the fixture.
“We play them regularly so everyone knows how tough the match will be”, said Howley.
“The last few fixtures against them have been very close with just a couple of points in it. I think it was our fitness that got us over the line in the previous game and it is something that we naturally bring given the nature of our profession.
“In the first round we travelled a long way to get to Cumbria and play Askam. A lot of the lads fly in from everywhere around the world and our preparation was very short before the game. But we got through it and hopefully with more training this time round we will be at our best.
“Playing in the third round is the furthest that we have ever gone in the competition and both times we have played Featherstone Rovers. Naturally the players will be eyeing up that pairing to see if we can make it third time lucky, but for the time being we are completely focused on the game against the Police.”
By Josh Barrowcliff